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Matt Kupec:  Remembering Jim Fellman

Matt Kupec: Remembering Jim Fellman

by Matt Kupec

May 25, 2020

This past weekend we lost a great one in Jim Fellman.

In our lives, we rarely come across an individual who will have a profound impact on our lives.  For sure, our parents.  Maybe a teacher, a coach or two, perhaps a faith leader or academic leader.  But it seems like we can only count a handful of people that truly influenced our lives.

For me, Jim was one.  He was my first real boss.  Jim hired me as the director of alumni relations at Hofstra University at the tender age of twenty-four years old when I was basically clueless.  Over the next ten years Jim he served as mentor, counselor, advisor, and friend.  He had a spirt of life, a spirit of of decency, and a spirit of making a difference.

Jim changed my life in so many positive ways.  As we celebrate Jim’s remarkable journey, I wanted to add my reflections to the moving tributes that have been shared on Facebook posts.

  • Loyalty and pride. Jim was feriously loyal.  To his family, to his employer and employees, and to his friends.  You could not ask of a friend better than Jim Fellman.  At the core, Jim was a former Marine and he loved the code of honor, “Semper Fidelis”, always faithful.
  • Be Yourself. Jim’s devotion to the Marines showed in his running.  Jim loved to run but his pace was not very fast.  Jim shuffled his feet about 4 inches forward as he swung his arms back and forth but it was technically running.  Jim also wore the old short, short Marine shorts.  In fairness, longer and baggier running shorts weren’t in during those times.  I’ll never forget the first time Jim and I ran.  We were in Florida on the beautiful board walk filled with people.  As we began to run Jim starts barking out “dedication, sacrifice, commitment,” as he listens to Marine music.  People would look at us like we were crazy but Jim didn’t care, we would repeat his chant throughout the entire run.  Jim didn’t care what others thought, he was going to be his own person true to himself.  What a valuable lesson to learn.
  • Organization and Building Team. I learned so much from Jim about teamwork and building team.  Jim taught me all about the military organizational structure.  I remember his weekly late afternoon meetings with Artie Sillman, Chuck Churchill, Bob Crowley, Larry Bloom, Margaret Shields, Richie Drury and others.  The sense of team and togetherness as we tackled the problems of the day in his Weller Hall office.  Jim inspired a shared vision and had the total buy-in, commitment and dedication of all on his team.
  • Attention to detail. Jim had a system of “yellow memos” when he come across an issue that needed attention or follow-up, he would write it down and send you a copy and keep a copy for himself.  Every so often, we would have a dreaded “yellow memo” meeting when Jim would follow-up back up with us to make sure we addressed the issue that he wrote about.  Sure technology has changed but the concept of following up and following through remains with me forever.
  • Perhaps more than any of his impressive characteristics was Jim’s passion.  Jim loved life and had a huge heart.  And Jim loved helping people.  He positively impacted thousands of people in his life.  He was genuine.  He was dedicated.  And he was so passionate.

I recently watched one of my all-time favorite movies, “What a Girl Wants.”  In the movie, a young woman is asked to conform to the English royalty ways of doing things but she ultimately struggles and must be true to herself.  At the advice of her friend, she is told that “you work so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out.”

Jim Fellman, you were born to stand out.  And you did that as well as anybody I have ever known. You had such impact on my life and I know that you made such a difference with the lives of so many others.

Rest in peace, my friend.  And thank you for being you!!

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed four major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, leading SIU’s recently extended campaign with an increased goal from $75 million to $200 million.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

Matt Kupec:  My Top Ten Favorite College Football Stadiums

Matt Kupec: My Top Ten Favorite College Football Stadiums

by Matt Kupec

October 3, 2019

This past week I had the chance to visit Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus for the first time.  The Fighting Illini are not a power in the Big 10 and have not competed in many games of importance over the years but I have enjoyed seeing the occasional highlight from an Illini game on football TV shows.

IllinoisWhen driving up to Memorial Stadium I was very impressive with the outside of the football stadium.  Columns on the outer walls made me think of the Los Angeles Coliseum which is home to the USC Trojans.  The inside of the stadium is somewhat of a different story with lots of concrete, field turf and a facility lacking in character.  I do believe with some minor renovations it could be a pretty cool place to play.  Ghosts of the late great Red Grange still run strong in the football environment.

Visiting Memorial Stadium made me think about the best football stadiums I have either been in as a player or a fan.  Here is my top #10 list and the rationale behind my rankings:

#1

.  UCLA (Rose Bowl Stadium – 90,888 seating capacity)

UclaI consider the Rose Bowl to be the best stadium in all of college football.  I have seen three games there including the 2005 Texas win over USC to capture the national championship and 2009 National Championship games in which Texas fell to Alabama.  I grew up loving to watch the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day when the major bowls still played their games on the same day to start the new year.  I love the beautiful grass, the hills in the background, the circular stadium and history of the place.

#2.  Notre Dame (Notre Dame Stadium – 77,662 seating capacity)

Notre DameI grew up watching Notre Dame highlights on Sunday with Lindsay Nelson and Paul Horning providing commentary.  Watching ND legends like Terry Hanratty, Jim Seymour and so many others filled my childhood dreams of being a football player.  The gold helmets.  The plain uniforms.  No colors in the end zone but diagonal white stripes.  And real and beautiful grass.  The echo’s of Knute Rockne and Touchdown Jesus outside.  A majestic place that, unfortunately, has been tainted by the installation of field tur.  It is painful to watch ND on television these days.  Shameful!

#3.  University of North Carolina (Kenan Memorial Stadium – 51,000 seating capacity)

Notre DameI first visited Kenan Stadium as a fourteen year 8th grader when my family dropped off my older brother Chris on the campus of UNC.  Chris was an All-American HS QB and picked the Tar Heels from among his many suitors.  I was immediately drawn to Kenan Stadium because of its beauty and setting nestled in the middle of campus surrounded by pine trees.  Those feelings grew when I wound up being the four-year starting QB for the Heels in the late 1970’s.  The Bell Tower overlooking the Stadium and the trees surrounding the stadium continue its beauty.  However, like ND, UNC installed artificial turf this year to replace the beautiful natural grass.  And the hedges were removed.  Now, Kenan is all concrete and artificial turf.  Helping me in my pain, though, is that my friend Mack Brown is the Head Coach again and he is the all-time best person as a coach I have ever met.  UNC was smart to bring him home!

#4.  University of Texas (Darrel K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium – 100.119 seating capacity)

TexasWhereas I grew up a Notre Dame fan, brother Chris grew up rooting for the Texas Longhorns.  But it wasn’t before Mack Brown became Head Coach at Texas that I attended my first game in Austin.  Wow!  What a great experience.  I saw many great games in Texas as Coach Brown had an incredible ten-year year building Texas as one of the nation’s great powers.  Texas loves its football and under Coach Brown the stadium underwent incredible expansion and improvement driving its capacity to over 100,000.  When the “Eyes of Texas” plays, it is truly a goose- bump type of experience.

#5.  Clemson University (Memorial Stadium – 81,500 seating capacity)

ClemsonIn a town of 28,000 Clemson has created a Saturday scene with its football team that is as good as any in the country.  It starts with the Tiger paws painted on all roads leading into the town and the University.  Then it continues to a game day experience that is unmatched.  I had the privilege of playing at Clemson twice – in my freshman and junior years as UNC’s QB.  What a great experience – the crowds were so loud that you couldn’t audible plays at the line of scrimmage.  And the C-L-E-M-S-O-N cheer when each section of Memorial Stadium plays its part is truly incredible.  This was my favorite stadium to play in by far!!

#6.  Ohio State (Ohio Stadium – 102,344 seating capacity)

Ohio StateI grew up watching the great Ohio State Buckeye teams under legendary coach Woody Hayes.  Despite the “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense, I admired players like QB Rex Kern and so many others.  I loved the Ohio State Buckeyes uniforms, particularly the Buckeyes placed on the helmets for outstanding performance.  I can’t imagine the pride the players felt when putting on the Ohio State uniform.  Brother Chris and I had the chance to attend the Texas at Ohio State game in 2005 when #2 Texas beat #4 Ohio State 26-22 in a classic.  Chris and I took in the game on the Texas sidelines.  The crowd, the RV’s parked by the thousands in the parking lots, the tailgating, the band playing outside the stadium.  And then the incredible roar when the band stormed the field before the game.  And, of course, the dotting of the “I” when playing the fight song at halftime.  What an incredible experience!

#7. U.S. Military Academy (Army) – (Michie Stadium – 38,000 seating capacity)

ArmyI played at Army during my senior year at UNC.  We beat Army 31-0 in what was sort of a homecoming for me as I returned to my native state to play against Army.  I even had a major story written about me in Long Island Newsday on Sunday.  What an incredible setting.  Michie Stadium overlooks the Hudson River.  The pageantry of a game vs. the US Military Academy is unlike any other.  The Cadets were awesome.  During one timeout, I remember the Cadets swinging their coats in the air in unison as the fight song was played.  One side note, on the plane into upstate NY (Westchester County), my UNC teammate Lawrence Taylor – yes, that Lawrence Taylor – looked out the window of the plane – and upon seeing trees on the ground, and knowing that I grew up on Long Island, yelled to me, “hey Matt, NY has trees!  Yes, Lawrence, NY has a few trees its not all downtown NY City!!

#8.  Auburn University (Jordan-Hare Stadium -87,451 seating capacity)

AuburnMy experience with Auburn University football and its stadium is mostly limited to many, many games watching Auburn play from Jordan-Hare Stadium.  The pageantry, the colors, the beauty and the quality of the football always made it feel big time.  Well, when I was working at UNC, I had the chance to attend the Tennessee @ Auburn football game as a guest of Dave Bronczek, the CEO of FedEx.  Dave had a son attend UNC and two daughters attend Auburn.  He was a big supporter of Auburn.  So, we flew into Auburn and had an awesome time at the game.  The highlight for me was the cheers practice right before the game and the real Golden Eagle flying into the ceremony.  So cool!

#9. University of Southern California (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – 78,467 seating capacity)

UscUSC, like Ohio State and Notre Dame, is steep in tradition.  Tailback U for a while!  Great run of QB’s, including numerous Heisman Trophy winners.  The great fight song, the school’s colors, the uniforms and the sound of Keith Jackson calling so many of their games!  I traveled to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a game years ago and was simply blown away by the experience.  I love the columns of the Coliseum.  I felt like I was in Rome watching an event from the Roman Coliseum.  And I loved the sound of the band constantly playing when the Trojans were on defense.

#10.  University of Alabama (Bryant-Denny Stadium – 101,821 seating capacity)

AlabamaLike Auburn, most of my memories of Alabama football come from watching numerous games on the television.  I think of Keith Jackson saying “AlaBama,” tear away jerseys worn by players like Johnny Musso, the simple but elegant uniforms, and the national championships.  My direct experience with Bryant-Denny Stadium came when the University of Alabama was recruiting me to be Vice Chancellor for Advancement.  I went to Tuscaloosa to meet with the President and senior administrators.  On the morning of my interviews, I went for a jog on campus and was able to get into unlocked Bryant-Denny Stadium and take a job on the field.  At one point, I imagined myself as a wide receiver and ran and out and up, caught the imaginary pass and raced into the end zone for the game winning touchdown against Auburn!  The mind is a great thing!  The experience at Bryant-Denny was overwhelming, even as I ran that imaginary pass pattern in front of over 100,000 fans!

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

 

 

The Business of Fundraising

Matt Kupec has enjoyed a career as one of the most prolific fundraisers in U.S. history.  In his 30+ years leading fundraising programs at places like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, HelpMeSee, Inc., and the Moffitt Cancer Center, Matt has helped these organizations raise nearly $5 billion.

About Matt Kupec

$410.02 billion was given to the 1 million+ charities that exist in the United States in 2017, crossing the $400 billion mark for the first time ever.  As these organizations compete for these critical dollars to fulfill their important missions, fundraising is getting more important and competitive than ever.  Fundraising has become a big business.

Matt Kupec has enjoyed a career as one of the most prolific fundraisers in U.S. history.  In his 30+ years leading fundraising programs at places like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, HelpMeSee, Inc., and the Moffitt Cancer Center, Matt has helped these organizations raise nearly $5 billion.  Very few fundraisers can claim the same success.

In his tenure, Matt has been in involved in all facets of fundraising – campaigns, annual giving, planned giving, major and principal gift giving, corporate and foundation giving, patient giving, faculty and staff giving, parents giving, community outreach programs, stewardship, gift processing, talent management, etc., and has an expertise that gives him an incredible insight into the world of philanthropy.

Matt Kupec has worked with boards, leadership teams, volunteer committees, community groups, consultants, to develop fundraising programs and strategies that produce results. As a result, he has a total grasp of the inner workings of a successful fundraising operation.

In this website, Matt will share his experience and expertise on those issues that of importance to fundraisers across this country.  Whether it’s starting up an organization and taking a best-in class development shop, this website will provide insights experienced by one of the most successful fundraisers in this country’s history.

Joining Matt Kupec to offer advice will be a series of guest “expert” columnists to offer their advice and counsel to the challenges that fundraisers face into today’s competitive environment as we explore the “business of fundraising.”